The Life Cycle Book of Cats by Ronald Ridout and Michael Holt

An excerpt from the book The Life Cycle Book of Cats by Ronald Ridout and Michael Holt a childrens book to help learn the facts of life.

THE LIFE CYCLE BOOK OF CATS. By Ronald Ridout and Michael Holt, illustrated by Tony Payne. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1974.

About the book: This beautifully illustrated book for 8- to 12-year-olds describes the evolution and history of the cat family, mating, reproduction, and kitten care. A wonderful way for youngsters to learn about the "facts of life" in relation to their pets.

From the book: THE GROWING FETUS--It is an average of 63 days from the time the eggs are fertilized to the time the kittens are born. By comparison, some butterfly eggs in hot countries turn into caterpillars in 5 or 6 days. A hen's eggs take about 21 days to turn into chicks. The human egg will take about 280 days to turn into a baby. But though length of time varies from creature to creature, all embryos look somewhat alike after about a quarter of the time has passed. Scientists believe that this is evidence of evolution--an indication that higher animals have developed from lower ones. In the end, of course, embryos grow into completely different creatures.

THE BIRTH--As the 63 days near an end, the mother cat becomes interested in snug corners. She is looking for a quiet place to have her kittens. It is usually well away from activity in a dark place, and here she makes her nest. She also becomes restless, meows a great deal, and demands a lot of attention. Then she will disappear altogether into her nest for a long spell.

When a kitten is ready to be born, the mother cat contracts her stomach muscles and squeezes. She does this several times, pushing the unborn baby down the uterus toward the enlarged vagina. Presently the head of the kitten appears through the vagina and a moment later the whole kitten appears. Each kitten is born one at a time in this way. The average number of kittens in a litter is 4, and there may be 20 minutes to an hour between each birth.

AFTER THE BIRTH--Usually the kitten is born in a sac of tissue, called the placenta, in which it "floated" inside its mother. The mother cat cuts this with her teeth and then licks the kittens clean. The mother cat licks the newborn kitten vigorously, not just to clean it, but also to stimulate the nervous system.

At birth the kitten is still attached to its mother by the umbilical cord. When the mother cat licks the kitten, this cord is found, severed with her teeth, and swallowed along with the placenta.

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